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Whatever Happened To Barry Sadler?

In 1966 the United States was in the middle of the Viet Nam war.  The country was splitting apart, with words like ‘Hawks’ and ‘Doves’, draft dodging, patriotism, burning draft cards and people supporting and opposing the war effort writing and recording their views and feelings.

One of the biggest hit songs of that era was called ‘Ballad Of The Green Berets’ by Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler.  The song was a #1 pop/rock music hit for 5 weeks and crossed over into country, easy listening, and other musical formats.

And then, largely, he disappeared to much of the general public.

So who was Barry Sadler and whatever happened to him?

Born in New Mexico, Sadler dropped out of High School in the 10th grade and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at the age of 17. As a member of the U.S. Special Forces, he was wounded in Viet Nam in 1965 and returned to the U.S.

And then, 1966 was the year of his mega-hit ‘Ballad Of The Green Berets’.

Sadler was never able to copy the success of that smash hit, although he recorded several albums, won several awards and in fact wrote books.

But trouble would be in Barry Sadler’s future.

In 1978 Sadler was accused of killing a man and was ultimately convicted of voluntary manslaughter.

He moved to Guatemala in the mid 1980′s and was shot in the head in September, 1988.  He survived the shooting, was air lifted to the United States and remained in a coma for several months.  He recovered but with brain damage.

He died in 1989 from complications related to the shooting.

Barry Sadler was 49.

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